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Found on the shores of The West Midlands. The Coventry Conch tells the tale of a young girl's experience growing up in Coventry in the 1990's.

Sunday, 20 March 2016



It’s Saturday and I’m sniffing Joop in Mum and Dad’s room. Dad has got a job, but it means he has to live in Germany and we only get to see him once a month.

Last week I sprayed Joop on my school jumper so I could smell Dad all day. Zoe in my class said I smelled like her Uncle Tony though, and everyone called me Uncle Tony, so now I just sniff the bottle.


Mum’s working in Grandad’s shop today. He gave Aunty Mandy the sack last week, for giving Nanny Pam a discount, and begged mum to work last night. We have to go too because Nanny Pam's in Tenerife with her boyfriend Colin, and can't look after us. 


We get to Grandad’s shop and he’s having a fag outside. He blocks the door to the shop with his leg, so we can’t go in. Then he tells us his list of shop rules:

1.  Don’t call me Grandad; there are lots of lovely young ladies round ‘ere that think I’m still in me forties.
2. Don’t touch anything!
3. Don't go near the aisle closest to the back door!
4.You can have one bag of pic-n-mix each, but don’t take the piss, none of the posh stuff with wrappers on. And don’t open the tub of foam bananas, I trapped a fly in there yesterday and I don’t think the bastards dead yet. 


The inside of Grandad’s shop smells like wee and dettol. There is junk everywhere, and Grandad has made some of the shelves himself out of stacked up old fag boxes and planks of wood.

Me and Jenny push Josh up and down the shop in his buggy, and look at all the stuff. It’s hard pushing the buggy because the whole shop floor has thick hairy carpet. Jenny says the orange and brown swirly pattern on it is to hide all the dog poo and sick.

 Grandad sells all sorts, fishing rods, tin openers, fake stuff… We try on some Roy Ban’s sunglasses and Jenny sprays on some Melvin Klien perfume. I smell the bottle that looks like Joop but its called Dupe, it doesn't smell anything like Dad.

I ask Jenny what she thinks is in the aisle we’re not allowed in. Jenny says it’s probably guns, tear gas and grenades, but I think she’s just saying that because she’s been learning about World War One at school.


An old lady asks Mum at the till if she can have a discount on a plate because it has a crack in.

Grandad snatches the plate off Mum and smashes it on the floor. Then he says, ‘You can have it for free love.’

Mum says sorry to the old lady, but she just says something about ‘bloody gyppos’ and walks out the shop.

Grandad shouts after her, ‘Don’t bother coming back unless you can afford the price tag, you tight arsed old cow…’


Grandad has gone out to the cash and carry and Mum is sorting out the rental videos near the front of the shop. 

Me and Jenny leave Josh in the garden ornament aisle with a little stone hedgehog and a bag of pic-n-mix. Then we sneak to the aisle nearest the back door.

There is lots of dressing up stuff for grown-ups. One of the outfits is really shiny and looks like a cross between a police woman and a swimming costume, and the lady on the packaging has lots of make-up on. Jenny passes me a candle that is shaped like a willy and I pretend to do a wee with it.

There’s loads of other weird stuff too. Jenny told me what condoms do last year, but I still don’t really get it. I don’t think she even understands what the Pina-Colada flavoured ones we find are for though.


Grandad comes back with lunch. He’s holding a bag of chips in one hand and is picking his nose with the other.

He serves the chips up with his hands and puts them on paper plates for us all. Me and Jenny inspect each chip for bogeys before we eat them. Mum doesn’t eat anything.


Grandad gives mum some money for working, but says that he’s taking off the money for the chips, so she only gets a tenner. I feel really angry at Grandad. I wouldn’t have eaten any of those bogey chips if I knew mum had to pay for them. When Grandad’s not looking me and Jenny stuff a load of posh pic-n-mix under Josh’s buggy.


We get home and Mum lets us ring Dad. When it’s Jenny’s turn to speak, she tells him all about the funny outfits in Grandad’s shop. I know she’s told Dad on purpose as he won’t let us go there again.

I tell Dad that I miss him and read him the postcard Nanny Pam sent us from Tenerife. He laughs when I tell him the bit about Colin eating a dodgy roast dinner at the beach bar, and losing a stone in one night.  


Mum has locked her bedroom door and we can hear her crying. Jenny says its because Grandad's been an arse hole and she misses Dad. We push some posh pic 'n' mix under her door until she lets us in, then we snuggle and watch Blind Date. 

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